Khalid Yafai vs. Norbelto Jimenez on Andrade-Sulecki card on June 29
By Dan Ambrose: WBA super flyweight champion Khalid Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs) will be defending against mandatory challenger Norbelto Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KOs) on June 29 on DAZN on the undercard of Demetrius Andrade vs. Maciej Sulecki card at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
This will be the 29-year-old Yafai’s fifth defense of his World Boxing Association 115-pound title that he won three years ago in beating Luis Concepcion by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2016. It’s hard to believe Yafai has had the WBA title for three years, because he’s not been involved in any high profile fights during his run as a world champion.
Yafai’s promoter Eddie Hearn for some reason hasn’t delivered him the fights against the other top elite level fighters at 115. By now, Yafai should have fought one of these guys: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Jerwin Ancajas, Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, Carlos Cuadras, Juan Francisco Estrada, Donnie Nietes or Aston Palicte.
Norbelto Jimenez hasn’t lost in eight years
Jimenez, 28, has been on a real tear since 2011, and hasn’t lost a fight since then. The only blemish on Jimenez’s record in the last eight years was his 12 round draw against former WBA super flyweight champion Kohei Kono in December 2014, and that was a controversial result. The fight took place in Japan, and the scoring arguably saved Kono from a loss. Kono would later lose to Luis Concepcion and Naoya Inoue. Jimenez’s eight-year run doesn’t tell the whole story though. He’s been fighting mostly poor opposition during that time frame with the exception of his fight against Kono. That might explain why Jimenez has done so well. The WBA probably shouldn’t have Jimenez ranked at #1, given how poor his opposition has been.
This is arguably a step down for Yafai from his last fight against Israel Gonzalez. Jimenez isn’t as talented Gonzalez. Yafai was fortunate to get a 12 round unanimous decision win over Gonzalez, as he appeared to lose that fight. The judges gave it to the A-side fighter Yafai, but he looked like he deserved to lose by two rounds. The judges scored it for Yafai by the scores 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112.
Andrade vs. Sulecki winner will stay in Canelo sweepstakes
WBO middleweight champion Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) has to beat #2 WBO Sulecki (28-1, 11 KOs) to remain in the hunt for a unification fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez. Andrade has the last remaining 160-pound title that’s not in Canelo’s possession. He wants that belt, because it’ll validate him in the eyes of casual boxing fans. Canelo wants the bragging rights that unifying the middleweight division will give to him.
Andrade wants the money and obviously the prestige that would come with a victory over Canelo or Gennady Golovkin. Sulecki, 30, is better than anyone that Andrade has faced before in his 11-year pro career, and it’s coming at a bad time. Andrade has fought mostly weak opposition, and if he could continue that patter a little, he would have a good chance of fighting Canelo. The best names on Andrade’s result as a pro are these guys:
– Vanes Martirosyan
– Jack Culcay
– Artur Akavov
– Alantez Fox
– Walter Kautondokwa
– Dario Fabian Pucheta
– Willie Nelson
– Brian Rose
Andrade has fought a lot of middle of the road opposition, and that makes it hard to gauge how good he is. The only thing we know for sure is the 31-year-old Andrade has skated through the first 11 years of his career fighting B-level opposition, and doing well. He’s had problems with inactivity until recently. Anrade is now signed with Matchroom Boxing USA, and they plan on keeping his busy in streaming his fights on DAZN. It’ll be interesting to see if Andrade can beat a good fighter with Sulecki’s pedigree.